The Fransie Pienaar Museum in Prince Albert has a fine collection of fragments of china found in various places around the town.

I particularly enjoy the circle of mismatched fragments.



Coming across this porcelain wash basin and jug in the Prince Albert museum jogged my memory back to when I was about ten years old, visiting my Great Aunt Mary in Colesberg.

Even then it was like walking through a living museum for every bedroom was equipped not only with such basins and jugs, but there was a porcelain potty discreetly tucked under every bed! I swore blind that I could feel the ghosts around me and the creaking wooden floorboards during the night convinced me I was not far from wrong. How I wish I could own one of these now!

My Great-Granny Joan Donald lived in that house until she died at the age of almost 101. Her daughter, Mary, continued living there until her death in her eighties, after which some artifacts from her home ended up in the Colesberg museum where I saw them many years later.

Their family name lives on, for that house has been renovated completely and is now run as Donalds Guest House – looking very different from when I first visited it and yet still strangely familiar.


The museum in Cathcart is typical of small rural museums which end up as the repositories for items families no longer want: shelves are crammed with bric-a-brac in the form of clothes, ornaments, tools and so on. This room displayed the kitchen equipment that has been thrown out in favour of modern electrical appliances that do various tasks in double-quick time – yet I remember many from our farm kitchen.


Every kitchen in my youth sported a blue-and-white striped jug similar to the one on the top shelf. My mother had a large one that we used for milk. I purchased a much smaller one when setting up home for the first time – it has not survived the travails of moving over and over again. I still have two metal moulds (see bottom left) which my grandmother used for making jelly. On another shelf are several examples of metal mincers. I remember helping my mother making mince by feeding blocks of beef in at the top then winding the handle and being fascinated by the little ‘worms’ of mince being extruded at the bottom. At least in this way we knew what was in our mince! Those metal colanders were so much more useful than the average plastic ones in stores these days – these melt or crack with time, while, as you can see from the above display, the enamel ones seemingly last forever! Almost hidden in the corner of the third shelf from the top is a sadiron – we had a variety of these at our farm house before there was electricity. They were heated up on the coal stove and carefully wiped on a damp cloth before we ironed anything – and were very efficient at keeping their heat. Of course several were needed on the stove if one had a large pile of ironing to get through.